Gov. Janet Napolitano last week ordered an immediate hiring freeze through the end of fiscal 2008 in July for state executive agency jobs not related to health, safety, or revenue collection, one day after the Arizona House approved a more severe job freeze.

The House-approved proposal also exempts public health, safety, and revenue collection, but unlike Napolitano’s limited freeze it covers the state Supreme Court, universities, and elected state officials.

Napolitano said she froze hiring because economic conditions continued to worsen. Just days before, her chief budget adviser said a freeze was not necessary

“The economic outlook for the nation and Arizona has changed considerably,” the governor said. “Unfortunately, collections in all of the state’s major revenue categories continue to fall below projections.”

The governor said the freeze would save $10 million. The current budget shortfall is more than $1 billion, and the shortfall in fiscal 2009 is estimated at $1.7 billion.

“When revenues decline, it’s common sense to target areas where you can spend less,” Napolitano said.

“We’ll manage our way through this budget deficit, just as we’ve managed our way through past deficits,” she continued. “State agencies have been working hard since the fall to find places to save, and this has already resulted in significant savings. At this point, freezing new hiring is a prudent way to help balance the budget while protecting education, health, and public safety.”

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